Many of our readers already know that the Saluki is the school mascot for Southern Illinois University, but how many also know that one half of a pair of passenger trains operated by Amtrak between Chicago and Carbondale, Illinois is named “the Saluki?” (the other half of the train is named the “Illini”). They are part of Amtrak’s Illinois Service that debuted in 2006 and is primarily funded by the state of Illinois. The reason behind the name is that Southern Illinois University students make up a significant portion of the passengers that ride the train that has stops near three major universities, including Southern Illinois University whose mascot is the Saluki. The other schools are Eastern Illinois University in Charleston (near Mattoon), and the University of Illinois in Urbana–Champaign. The suggestion was spearheaded by Southern Illinois University’s president, Glenn Poshard, and then Congressman, Jerry Costello.
The Illini and Saluki operate over the Canadian National Railway, successor to the Illinois Central. The route that is 309 miles long is covered by a GE Genesis P40DC or P42DC locomotive, one Cafe/Business Class car, and four Coach cars.
Image of the Saluki mascot on board the Saluki